by John Webber and James Caldwall
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ART OF THE 237 LEVEL
BATTLE OF SISTERS CREEK ⎔ ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL ⎔ MAN OF VAN DIEMENS LAND ⎔ OXBOROUGH ⎔ RABBIT PRINT ⎔ STILL LIFE OF FLOWERS IN A JUG ⎔ THREE JOHN WEBBER PRINTS ⎔ YEI PICTORIAL
41:47-41:52; 42:04-43:04; 57:36-57:45; 57:50-58:03
Seen first very out of focus as Danny reacts to room 237 for the first time, then finally still quite obscure as he heads in later.
There’s no way to be 100% sure about this one; this is the best view of the film version. But John Webber didn’t actually etch very many etchings in his short life, and so we can narrow it down pretty rapidly to two candidates where the bottom half is dark and the top half is light, and the proportions of the other one (A Man of Prince William Sound) felt more off to me than this one. This is assuming this is in fact another Webber, since every other piece along this wall in this hall are Webbers for sure. So I suppose there’s an outside chance it’s a contemporary of his, or some totally random other artwork. But I think the chances are high I’m right about this for reasons I’ll expand on after we talk about the significance of this piece.
I’ll skip Webber, since we’ve discussed his life in that last link, but know that this piece was not the result of his own travels but from an account by John Hawkesbury of Captain Cook’s voyage to the region. So in a sense I guess it foreshadows Webber’s joining Cook the following year, in the captain’s final conquest.
The “Vandiemenlanders” were said to have been completely naked when they were encountered, and Danny is heading towards his own encounter with total nudity.
As for the place, it’s named for Anthony van Diemen, a Dutch colonial governor. Danny’s middle name is Anthony, and it’s thought this is where “Tony” comes from. And it’s never really clear on the surface whether Tony is good or evil, only that he wants to preserve Danny from the Overlook’s effects. But Tony allows Dick to get murdered (when he could’ve easily shine-warned him), and is almost deliberately obscure with Wendy throughout. My feeling is not that Tony is a force for evil, but “Diemen” sounds like “demon” in English–which is partly why the island (“Van Demon’s Land”) was renamed to “Tasmania”–and I know certain audience members thought Danny was infused with a kind of dark spirit, à la The Exorcist.
After almost 2 centuries of explorers coming and going, New South Wales Governor Philip King set up a military outpost on the Derwent River to stave off the French doing it first. The river makes a port of the town of Hobart, where Charles Darwin was once harboured, during his HMS Beagle voyages (room 237 has a connection to Darwin). In the novel, the Overlook was run by one “Horace Derwent” who returns as a ghost, and there’s also a painting in the Conquest well I believe to have a “Derwent” connection.
THE CAPE GRIM MASSACRE
The island became a major Australian penal colony, receiving 40% (73,000 people) of all convicts sent to Australia (the Overlook has at least one other connection to the notion of prisons–another indigenous portrait, in fact). And the area was also unrested by the Victorian gold rush. But most significant, it seems to me, is that the island was the site of yet another Sand Creek massacre-style atrocity. The Cape Grim massacre of 1828 is a complex matter (click the link for a fuller account), with roots in the fact that settlers would abduct and rape the indigenous women, leading to reprisal murders. The massacre began when interrupted sex between the convicts of a sheep-herding company and some willing indigenous women lead to the shooting of several indigenous men, including their chief. This lead others of the Peerapper people to slaughter 118 of the ewes, clubbing some and driving others off a cliff into the sea (Jack wakes up from being clubbed (right through the wall from the Webber etching) next to a box with the number 118 on it). Four shepherds of the company (one named Nicholson) then sought out the Peerappers and killed twelve of their men in a surprise night raid. Then, 6 weeks later, the same four shepherds came back and trapped another party, and killed as many as thirty more people, shooting some, and throwing others off a cliff. I’m emphasizing the “cliff” detail because there’s a painting in the Conquest well called Cliffside Mill, which appears next to the painting most associated with Hallorann’s murder. And on the other side of the lounge from this painting is one I suspect to be by Charles Tunnicliffe. And the Cape Grim massacre was witnessed by a famed indigenous man who was 11 at the time, named Tunninerpareway. Tunni-cliff. Those familiar with my Tower of Fable theory will appreciate how there’s also something to be said for the fact that this painting appears in the same spot of the lounge as a piece of art appears in the layout of the kitchen, which I believe to be of a Grimm fairy tale. So this “Cape Grim” would be especially apt here. Incidentally, this is also the same spot in the lobby where Danny hides in the steel drawer, which has a certain Hansel and Gretel flair, and it’s there that a young Danny will witness the murder of his friend Dick. Tunninerpareway (AKA Jack of Cape Grim), whose family was shattered by the massacre, grew up to become a resistance fighter who was executed for murder in a trial that sounds utterly bananas. But fun fact: he was defended at trial by Redmond Barry, a real man sharing the name of the main character from Kubrick’s last film, Barry Lyndon. Chief Tatânga Mânî (not far from this portrait) was also a youth at the signing of the terrible Treaty 7, which was signed by Chief Bear Paw. So there’s a lot of this imagery of children witnessing horrible acts growing up, and what it does to them as adults. Also, I should note that the whole massacre was overseen by businessman Edward Curr who it was said offered rum to “any man who could bring him an Aboriginal head.” Red rum?
TAKING OUT THE TRASH
Here’s a crazy phenomenon I had totally overlooked, not having any sense of it’s possible significance: there’s two laundry hamper trolleys seen throughout the film, the one first appearing right at Hallorann’s kill spot on CLOSING DAY and reappearing outside room 242 on TUESDAY. That hamper is gone by the following WEDNESDAY when Danny receives his ghost ball invitation. I had totally ignored this because, you know, it’s got wheels, it’s a laundry hamper. I figured Wendy might’ve been doing the linens one day, and that’s all there was to it. She rolled it elsewhere. She had 9 days to do so. You know, as Danny heads into room 237, the shot fades into Wendy in the boiler room, so it could’ve been taken as a sign of her taking on more and more of Jack’s responsibilities. But there’s another hamper that’s being wheeled around the Gold Room, which is hidden by a table cloth, that the man yanks away at the moment that Hallorann appears in the film for the first time (2nd image below), and he then rolls it over so that it’s behind Hallorann as he strolls up to the group. Then it goes behind Watson (with his Bugs Bunny-coloured outfit) while they talk, and then when the shot cuts to Danny’s entry, it rolls backward through the Gold Room to pass his head, and because of the nature of the shot, it’s only not behind him once he rejoins his parents. So these trolleys would seem to connect the hotel’s desire to kill the two most prominent shiners of the film, for reasons I’ll explain below. And perhaps the reason they are hamper trolleys is to do with the hotel subtly suggesting that the “unclean” need to be “taken out”. As Danny enters 237, the fade into the boiler room reveals a room with a massive bay of laundry machines that Wendy runs past while Jack dreams of hacking Danny to pieces.
A SOUL FOR ALL ROOM NUMBERS
My last major thing to say is that I think this painting symbolizes the hotel’s desire to contain Danny’s soul inside the hotel. It hangs outside room 242, and Danny starts the story with giant 42s radiating off his shoulders, as if marked already. You might be aware of the evidence for room 238 being the room it hoped to put Hallorann in, but what this painting (and the Overlook’s wonky blueprints) helped me realize is that room 238 has “A Man” of Nootka Sound outside it, just as room 236 has “A Woman” of Unalashka outside it, and down the hall there’s “A Woman” of Prince William Sound with the Battle of Sisters Creek right around the corner. So, if Danny is this “man” and Hallorann was that “man”, perhaps Wendy was meant for Unalashka while the twins live near 234’s Prince William.
That leaves Jack, who I’m going to posit gets sucked into room 231 for a few reasons:
- 1) room 231 is the last room Danny trikes toward before turning and going up back past 237, making it the only door we get a clear look at,
- 2) the final 21 photos that Jack appears among have values, according to my Treachery of Images theory, and these values all add up to 231,
- 3) if you opened the door, there would be a little foyer of some kind, and right behind it would be the 237 bathroom where Jack got it on with Lorraine Massey,
- 4) while he’s getting it on with Massey, there’s mirrors around him that could be throwing his image into the space of that apartment,
- 5) the time code 22:31 is Jack walking into Suite 3 while Ullman lists the rooms, 23:10 is 1 second after he says “homey” in the line, “Well, it’s very…uh…homey!”, 23:31 is the moment Ullman’s about to get hit by the Austin Maxi, which is right after Wendy’s asked “When was the Overlook built?” followed by his origin storytelling, and just for the record 2:31-2:34 is Jack driving toward a mountain called Heaven’s Peak in the opening of the film and right beneath the room 237 bedroom, which is very near the 231 doorway is the “Heaven” photo from the F21. So that’s a different sort of heaven’s peak, isn’t it? Oh, and I don’t usually count the time count this way, but 2:03:01 is Jack knocking creepily on the bathroom door, and 2:03:11/2:03:31 is the bulk of his Big Bad Wolf routine. Oh, also, the first line on page 231 of the novel is Jack saying, “When I’m on my deathbed you’ll lean over and say, ‘It serves you right, remember the time you broke Danny’s arm?'” Is 231 that deathbed?
As for how the hotel fails in this mission, I noticed a cool thing recently, which is that Wendy and Danny pass the spot in the labyrinth where Danny will later jump into his backward crawl at exactly 2420 seconds, as if underscoring how the lessons and escapes will outfox the hotel’s designs.
In fact, one of my favourite Redrum Road moments is how, in the round one version of She Came In Through the Bathroom Window, Paul McCartney is singing, “Didn’t anybody tell her? Didn’t anybody see?” as Wendy and Danny pass the 2420 moment…
…and in round three, this exact moment shows Danny jumping from the same spot into his backward crawl, as if passing the spot earlier is what triggered the later jump.
In round two, Jack is springing his trap on Grady, trying to rub the man’s history in his face, to prove what they both know about his real identity. A trap that will quickly become Grady’s trap on Jack.
And since we’re talking about the mirrorform here, remember that each of these moments has an opposing moment, where the action on both sides is moving in the opposite direction, playing the opposite side of Abbey Road, which, for the last three images you just saw, happens to be a line from track 2, that goes, “Something in the things she shows me.” Didn’t anybody see the thing that Wendy showed him? Well, we’re seeing it now.
Next art reference: Mt. Hood Postcards and Face Collage
MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
OTHER MAIN PAGES FOR SHINING ANALYSIS
THE MIRRORFORM ⎔ THE BEATLES ⎔ THE RUM AND THE RED
BACKGROUND ART ⎔ OVERLOOK PHOTOGRAPHS ⎔ GOLDEN SPIRALS
PHI GRIDS ⎔ PATTERNS ⎔ VIOLENCE AND INDIGENA ⎔ ABSURDITIES
THE STORY ROOM ⎔ ANIMAL SYMBOLS ⎔ THE ANNOTATED SHINING